The Vault

An Anti-Suffrage Children’s Book From 1910, Mocking “Baby” Activists

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Anti-suffrage literature printed in the 1910s, as suffrage activists in the United States ramped up their campaign for enfranchisement, took a number of clever forms. Advocates like the members of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage tried to portray a desire for the franchise as foreign to women’s nature. (See, for example, the many anti-suffrage postcards that used humor to police gender roles, mocking women who wanted to vote as unnaturally aggressive and their husbands as unmanly.)

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In this piece of anonymously authored ephemera, suffragettes are pictured not as men, but as roly-poly three-year-old girls. They bear an array of placards whose slogans mix the actual platform items of women working for the vote (“Votes for Women,” “Equal Rights”) with petulant and childish demands (“No More Early Bedtimes,” “Cake Every Day”).

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In the course of the book, the weak-willed protestors leave behind their goals one by one, after kissing boys, eating too many sweets, or simply falling asleep—a story that paints women’s desire for suffrage as frivolous and shallowly felt.

I first saw this book via a Bryn Mawr College online exhibition about suffrage and World War I, which included a page on anti-suffrage efforts at the college. (The book is also available on the Internet Archive.) 

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

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Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. 

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